Unified Tech Fund launches new investment rounds for cyber and digital social care

The Unified Tech Fund prospectus, a guide which was created to help simplify funding for NHS digital transformation projects and act as a template on how to bid for funds, has launched new investment rounds.

NHSX’s prospectus was updated on 18 October 2021 to include a number of new or updated funding opportunities, including in areas such as cyber, social care and maternity.

Originally published back in September, alongside the ‘What Good Looks Like’ framework and ‘Who Pays for What’ guidance, the Unified Tech Fund is linked to both and brings existing pots of national tech funding into a single space, in an attempt to make the applications process easier for innovators.

The 18 October updates include the time of day being added for all closing dates, while fresh funds and application deadlines were also added for cyber security remediation revenue and digitising social care, with £3.3 million and £8.2 million available, respectively, for each area.

Individual NHS trusts are welcomed to apply for the cyber security remediation revenue fund and successful applicants can receive grant funding of up to £20,000 each. The aim of the funding is to ‘assist with the remediation of cyber security vulnerabilities identified in a review report’ or in a DSPT return.

For the digitising social care programme, NHSX is seeking bids from Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) and organisations are free to bid for up to £457,000 in capital and a maximum of £222,500 in revenue per application.

In this section, there’s a focus on digital transformation, including going paperless, as well as on innovative care technologies, such as those which can help to reduce falls. There is also an emphasis on the development of Digital Social Care Records (DSCR) and ensuring that data is ‘captured at the point of care, provides access to appropriate NHS data and supports transfer of data between care settings’.

Meanwhile, the digital maternity fund, which has a deadline of 15 November 2021 and a £52 million funding pot to apply for, has been updated. Support here will be allocated on a regional basis, with local maternity and neonatal systems (LMNS), individual and combined NHS trusts, and LMNS or an individual NHS trust partnered with ICSs, CCGs or regional digital leads, all eligible to apply.

The scope for interested parties includes raising ‘the digital maturity of a maternity service within an organisation’, or ‘supporting those at a lower level of maturity such as fast followers to reach the next step of early adopters’. The emphasis is on the delivery of outcomes such as interoperability, establishing infrastructure through hardware purchasing, buying or upgrading maternity information solutions, improving the quality of data, innovations and new ways of working, and digital leadership development.

Funding pots around digital maternity seem broadly in line with a number of NHS announcements on the topic this year. As HTN reported previously, Ruth May, the Chief Nursing Officer for England, announced in June that the NHS will invest £52 million to speed-up the implementation of online maternity records. While a new national digital midwife role was also created and recruited in the early months of 2021,  with Julia Gudgeon appointed in July.